A Baltimore community group is seeking 4,000 volunteers to build a playground on a 1-acre parcel of the old Memorial Stadium site.
A ceremonial groundbreaking for the 17,000-square-foot playground was held yesterday afternoon to draw attention to the project and attract more assistance.
Plans call for building the playground during nine days next month. It will include a castle, a volcano, five slides, a shaky bridge, swings and other amusements. Officials with the group spearheading the effort, Community-Built Playground Inc., estimate that the playground will cost $350,000. The group announced yesterday that so far it has raised almost $300,000.
Playground group officials are making a final push to raise the remaining money. But finding tools and skilled and unskilled workers is just as important, they say.
"What we need now is a commitment from people so we have a list of who can do what," said Ruth Ramsey, president of Community-Built Playground Inc.
According to the group's Web site, a skilled volunteer is anyone who "is familiar with power tools" and can "cut a straight line with a circular saw." An unskilled worker "is not very familiar with tools, but willing to follow directions."
Debra Evans, executive director of the playground group, said that besides workers, the group needs people willing to loan tools.
Evans estimated that the project will need at least 55 drills, 30 wheelbarrows, 30 hammers and lots of shovels and other tools.
"It becomes more a challenge to find someone to loan a drill or a lawn mower in an urban area, [as] opposed to a suburban community where everyone has one," she said. "But we'll find them."
The group says tools will be returned to their owners in the same condition in which they were borrowed.
The first round of the playground blitz begins April 7 and will continue until April 10. A second round, from April 13 through April 17, is scheduled to complete the project. On most days, three shifts of workers will toil from 8 a.m. to dusk.
Four neighborhood organizations - Waverly Improvement Association, the Better Waverly Community Organization, Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Civic Association, and Coldstream/Homestead/Montebello Community Corp. - have their weight behind the playground plan.
Community leaders say the playground is needed because the area's six schools have inadequate playground space for the 3,148 children who attend them.
A YMCA and a low-income senior citizen apartment building sit on the 30-acre site where Memorial Stadium once stood. More development, including condominiums, is in the works. The idea for the playground dates back at least as far as 1998, three years before the stadium was razed. Community-Built Playground Inc. is a nonprofit organization created solely for this project.
"There have been some bumps in the road, but everyone has come together to make this happen," Evans said.
Fund raising has been a grass-roots effort including fish fries and sales of spaghetti dinners. One family even bought the naming rights for the playground's castle as a gift for an elderly family member. Children at neighborhood schools have also raised money for the project.
To volunteer, call 410-235-3334 or visit the group's Web site, www.stadiumplayground.com.